Take the challenge- is the Family Album Dead?

Photographer Rebecca Welsch explores the importance of keeping our photo memories in a family album and not leave them behind on our smartphone.

Let’s just cut straight to the chase – has the family album seen the last of its days?

We are taking more and more photos every day than we ever have. In fact, 8.95 million photos and videos are shared on Instagram alone per day. Smartphones have made it easier to capture every step in our lives and our children’s lives. We have become obsessed with images. The popularity of Instagram can attest to that. Every school function, small or large, involves parents carefully treading their path in order to get the best position for photos of their children on their smartphone. But what is happening to these images? And to what purpose? Are they being carefully preserved in our family photo albums?

No – mostly not.

Maybe we feel like we should be taking photos because it seems important at the time and maybe we share a few on social media. And mostly, that’s it. Gone. Or sitting on the computer. Recently, I ran a spot survey on my local Mums Facebook group to get an idea of how many people these days put together a family photo album. My question was ‘I’m wondering if the family album is dead – when did you last put together a family album (slip in photos or photo book)’. Here were the results:

  • I haven’t put together a family album since I had my own family – 74 (38%)
  • In the last 12 months – 72 (37%)
  • 2-3 years ago – 33 (17%)
  • 5-10 years ago – 16 (8%)
  • Nearly 40% of respondents replied that they hadn’t put together a family album since they had their own family. Not to make them guilty, I simply wanted to start a conversation on the value of printed photography and the role of the family photo album.

girl-pretty-dress1440What is the real and true value of printed photographs? The true value is that your printed photographs become the memories for your children. Try and think back to when you were 7 years old and imagine your dad. What did he look like? I know my memory is actually a photograph of my dad from that time. If I hadn’t seen that photo in my album over and over again, I would really struggle to clearly remember what he looked like.

So, who cares most if the family album is dead?

“If there was a fire in the house, the first thing I would take is my photo albums”. Do you remember hearing that from our parents’ generation? What are we going to take? Our computers? Our USB’s? Our Hard drives? What we print is what gets handed down to our children. Technology becomes outdated, digital files become corrupt or even lost over time. So who cares most if the family album is dead? Our children will. Eventually, when we’re gone and there are no memories printed, that’s when they’ll care.

It’s our responsibility.

We become curators of our childhood memories through the photographs we not only choose to take but most importantly the photographs we choose to print. That all sounds a bit serious. How can we curate our kid’s memories? When you think about it, it’s very difficult to remember back to being newborn baby, a 1-year-old, a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old. But, through printing our photographs, we are choosing what our children will remember.

As a photographer, I have these conversations with families every day. I might have a mum say, “I don’t need to be in the photograph” or “we don’t need a photo of us” (referring to a photo of just mum and dad). I would agree perhaps that this isn’t something that you need. But that’s not what printed photos are about. Your children need these photos. It’s our responsibility to give them these memories. Every child has the right to look back over their family photo albums with a slight cringe at the hairstyles and clothes that were worn! Or look back with surprise at ‘how young mum looks’.

photo-albums1440I challenge all parents to compile one family photograph album every year.

Here’s how to start a movement:

– Sort your photos into folders per month

– Choose top 10 photos per month

– Either print these at the lab or send to a photo book company (just search for ‘photo books Australia’)

My favourite approach is to document a year and pick my ten fave photos for each month. Include the year or date period on the spine. Even if you have an annual holiday and you just do one album a year on the holiday. Or you just have one album a year which includes the key events in the year like the kid’s birthdays and Christmas.

VOILA – memories for life


Join the family album not dead Facebook group highlighting the importance of family albums and providing tips, hacks and inspiration when it comes to putting together regular family photo albums.

Also, see How to Create Beautiful Family Photos